With the dust finally settling from the post-AV and local election fall out, focus will now turn to Boris Johnson's battle against Ken Livingstone for the keys to City Hall. It is likely to be a fascinating tussle. While many may consider it merely a re-run of the 2008 election, it is anything but. There are the obvious simpleton comparisons – the same men, fighting to run the same city – but the context and issues are vastly different. Critically both men now have a record in office. (I plan to assess Boris's record after three years in office on these pages in the following days and weeks so stay tuned). But this fact seems to have
been lost on Livingstone.
You would have thought that a man who had been in City Hall for eight years would relish the chance to talk about his achievements. But so far he has run a mile from it. His campaign strategy has been to link 'Boris to Tory cuts', and then, presumably, hope Londoners are fooled by this and forget his 153% increase in council tax, his 60% increase in congestion charge, his £3 million Londoner newspaper. Look at his campaign website and you have to dig very deep to find out about anything he did. But perhaps tellingly, when you do, it is fairly thin for almost a decade in power.
So, before we look at Boris's achievements here's a quick look back to Ken's most important achievements – I can only presume Ken thinks they are the most important as they top his list on his campaign website.
- He claims credit for an increase in police numbers. But omits that in his last mayoral questions he was forced to admit this was down to Home Office and borough funding, not his budget.
- He boasts of the revival of the bus service. Presumably these are the bendy buses which he introduced to replaced the much-loved Routemasters. This is despite repeatedly promising to save the hop-on, hop-off buses with the immortal line: "Only some ghastly, dehumanised moron would want to get rid of the Routemaster."
- He claims to have held average fares level in real terms over 8 years. DfT website says different – stating they rose by 6.3% in real terms, (39.4% in actual terms). They would have risen by around 18% in real terms had he not frozen them in his final year in a cynical election ploy, which he had planned to reverse anyway.
- He claims congestion charge reduced congestion – TfL says it didn't. He also omits the western extension part, which more than 60% of residents and more than 70% of businesses opposed.
- He claims credit for winning the 2012 Olympics – but omits the fact that the budget quadrupled during his mayoralty.
- Claims to have backed lesbian and gay rights – but omits inviting Al-Qaradawi, the cleric who thinks homosexuality should be punishable by death, as a guest of honour to City Hall.
- Claims to have protected Freedom Pass – but omits the fact that it was totally paid for by local boroughs under his mayoralty and not TfL.
- Claims the biggest transport investment programme since WWII securing the East London Line upgrade, extension of the DLR, taking over key parts of the rail network to create London Overground. Really? After eight years in office he had done nothing for the Tube and Crossrail still had not been given the go-ahead. His record on improving the Tube and rail network in London is woeful and his neglect of the system, shameful.
- Claims to have introduced Oyster cards – but omits that no-one living in outer London could use them, as he failed to get the on the national rail network.
- Claims to have opposed the part-privatisation of the Tube. But omits that he failed to convince his own Government to drop the disastrous plan, even spending millions of taxpayers' money fighting his own Labour Government in court. In the end, the PPP went ahead, cost Londoners billions of pounds and delivered no upgrades.
I could go on, but I am sure at some point Livingstone will stop running from his record in office.